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City Comptroller Releases Report Challenging 60-Day Shelter Limit Rule

During a press conference Thursday, Comptroller Brad Lander raised concerns about the city's 60-day shelter limit rule, calling it "haphazard."

On Thursday, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander released the findings of a months-long investigation into the city’s 60-day shelter limit rule for migrant families with children living at certain city facilities. 

The main conclusions of the investigation included that the city implemented the 60-day rule in a “haphazard manner,” that the 60-day notices did not provide families with information about ways to seek exemption from the evictions, and that case management for the families having to leave their shelter was “limited.” The administration also “specifically denied” families with elementary school-aged children placement into Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters — where the 60-day limit does not apply — and failed to monitor outcomes for the families who left the shelter system after their 60 days were up, such as their housing situations and work authorization status, the report said. The Adams administration announced the 60-day policy in October of 2023, but it was on Jan. 9 that families first had to move out of their shelter at the Row Hotel in midtown due to these notices.

Lander held a press conference Thursday across the street from the Row NYC Hotel, a hotel shelter for families with children where the first evictions took place in January, to release the findings of the report. More than two dozen elected officials and immigrant advocates joined him, including Council members Alexa Avilés and Shahana Hanif.

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At the press conference, Lander said that as of April 28, the city gave 10,229 families with children 60-day notices. In total, 37,118 people were impacted by the 60-day notices — 19,497 adults and 18,149 children. Of those individuals, 51% have left the shelter system entirely, 40% have relocated to another shelter, and 9% are in the same shelter where the city served them the 60-day notice.

“This is not a policy designed or implemented to help families achieve stable housing and self sufficiency and integrate into our city,” Lander said on Thursday. “It was a policy designed to churn people through a system, to subject them to screening after screening, and to push them out of the shelter system with no regard for where they landed, with no regard for the impact on their kid’s education, and with no regard for their actual path to stable housing, employment, and self-sufficiency.”

The report, as well as the advocates gathered at the press conference, urged the city to end the 60-day rule. They recommended that the city amend the 60-day notice to add critical information such as the possibility of exemptions, fully provide case management for families impacted by the notices, and track the outcomes of the families who have received 60-day notices in the long term.

Avilés, the chair of the New York City Council’s immigration committee, told reporters on Thursday that the findings in the report “should not be a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention.” 

“This policy was simply made to push people out, to disregard their humanity, to disregard their experience, but to make them so uncomfortable that they would self-select to move on despite the real challenges that face them,” Avilés said.

Though families with children can reapply for shelter after 60-days, the families must return to the Roosevelt Hotel intake center and have often been placed far from their children’s schools and the communities they have built, migrants told Documented on Thursday.

City Hall said in a statement that since the spring of 2022, more than 195,000 migrants have gone through city care, with 65,600 plus migrants still in the shelter system. The spokesperson said that almost half of the families whose 60-day notices have expired, and more than 65% of all the migrants who have been in city facilities, have moved out of the shelter system “without a single migrant family with children being forced to sleep on the street.”

“Our 30-and-60-day notices are one tool in our very limited toolbox to help migrants to exit shelter because, as we have repeatedly said, New York City is long past its breaking point,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “While several suggestions made in the comptroller’s report are already part of our policy, any ideas on how to improve our herculean work are welcome and will be considered. But let’s be clear: A national humanitarian crisis requires a national solution.”

As the Comptroller’s press conference ended, two migrant women stood on the sidewalk in front of the Row Hotel, watching as elected officials, advocates and reporters dispersed. The women were migrants from Haiti, who arrived in New York more than a year ago  and said they had been greatly impacted by the city’s 60-day shelter stay restrictions. 

Francois Laniese and her 1-year-old daughter Gaelle were evicted from the Row NYC Hotel in January of 2024, she said. Since she left the Row that first time due to the 60-day rule, she has had to move three times to three shelters — first to a facility in Brooklyn, and then Queens. Now, she was assigned to the shelter at the Row again.

“Everyone just has to go from here, to there, from here, to there,” she said in Spanish. “It’s very difficult for us immigrants.” 

Gaelle, Laniese’s daughter, sat in a stroller next to her, babbling as her mother explained the ordeals she faced while moving, returning to the Roosevelt each time to reapply for shelter before being sent to a different borough. Though Laniese, 33, has her work authorization card, she is a single mother and has been unable to secure childcare for her daughter, leaving her unable to pay for stable housing outside of the shelter system, she said. “I looked for a daycare to care for my baby in order for me to work. If I don’t work, how can I pay for a house?” she asked. “I haven’t found one [a daycare], she’s always with me.” 

Laniese’s friend, Sophonie Loutte, also staying at the Row hotel, said she too faced multiple evictions under the 60-day rule. She’s had to move from hotel to hotel with her 6-year-old son Dani, and her husband. Loutte said she has been living at the Row initially since last year when she had to leave in January due to the 60-day notice, and her family was also sent to two different hotels, one of which was in Queens. 

When they were forced to leave the Row in January and reapply for shelter at the Roosevelt, her son was attending school just a few blocks from the Row, where she could walk him to school. But when they were reassigned to a shelter in Queens, Loutte had to take her son to the same school close to the Row hotel — waiting for him in the area every day to finish school and commuting about two hours every day in total. “It was so far,” Loutte, 33, said in Spanish. Regarding the constant moves she said it was her son who has been affected the most. “For me, it’s not a problem,” she said. “For him, he’s tired.”

Both women said that they did not feel that the Row’s social workers assisted them in finding daycare or securing affordable housing. “We have one [a social worker], but they don’t help us,” Laniese said. Laniese and Loutte will have to move out of the Row again in July, they said, and do not know where they will be sent. 

At the press conference, Lander emphasized what he called a “particularly distressing finding that hasn’t been revealed before.” There was, he said, a city policy in place barring families with elementary-school-aged children (in kindergarten through sixth grade), who have been given a 60-day-notice and apply for re-intake, from being placed in DHS shelters, which are currently exempt from the 60-day rule. 

“The administration offered no rationale for that whatsoever for that especially cruel and disruptive policy,” Lander said at the press conference. When a migrant family initially shows up to request shelter in New York, Lander called it “luck of the draw” whether that family gets put in a DHS shelter, or a shelter run by Health and Hospitals, or another agency.

Advocates also called on the city to expand affordable childcare, housing vouchers, and recommended that the city council pass Intro 210 — which would end the 60-day-rule entirely, as well as the 30-day rule for single migrants living in some city facilities. Councilmember Shahana Hanif, who is the prime sponsor of Intro 210, also called the Stop Shelter Evictions Act, said at the press conference that the Adams administration had “no communication with the council or other leaders” to help elected officials to collaborate and help them understand why families in their districts were being told to leave their shelters. 

“Nothing at all, except for a doubling down by this administration that this is the right policy to address the influx of asylum seekers,” Hanif said. “We are a growing, growing coalition that says: ‘No, no family in our city should be evicted.’ Right now, we’ve got to be clear that this Mayor has created a separate and unequal shelter system for asylum seekers. This is not okay.”

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